Chatur Lal

Treating Chatur Lal, India’s famous tabla player

Vinod K. Puri

Born in 1941, Vinod was brought up and educated in Amritsar. He attended Government Medical College, and subsequently trained as a surgeon at PGI, Chandigarh. He left for USA in 1969, and retired in 2003 as Director of Critical Care Services at a teaching hospital in Michigan. Married with two grown sons, he continues to visit India at least once a year.

In 1965, I was being trained as a surgeon at Delhi’s Irwin hospital. (Ed. Note: His story is available here.) When our ward ran out of beds for the patients, they lay on thin red blankets on the floor-space between the beds. On a Saturday morning, when I went in to help with the new admissions, I would find some patients lying on the floor all the way in the corridor outside the ward.

One Saturday, I found a small, dark complexioned man lying on the floor. He had been admitted because he had blood in his urine. Very quickly, we realized that the man was Chatur Lal, a well-known tabla-player. His younger brother Ram Narain introduced himself, as did some more of his friends. Ram Narain played Sarangi, and later on became as famous as his brother.

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